I wasn’t expecting any emotional catharsis taking the boys to school and Ken and Linda’s house this morning. I was just thinking it would be the usual Monday drop off, and then I would go home and go to sleep, hopefully getting enough rest so the first night shift of the week would not set the tone for the rest of them.
But because life is weird like that, it isn’t what happened.
I don’t remember how the conversation between my youngest (he’s 4) and myself started. It probably doesn’t matter much with kids, because it’s usually video games and cars and things of that nature. As we drove down 24th Street toward Ken and Linda’s house, John asked me the question, “Who is your mom?”
I told him she’d died many years ago. And that her name was Lila Wilkins, and she had blue eyes and liked country music.
“What did she die from, Dad?”
“She had a bad sickness called cancer. She died on February 27, 1987. I was 18 years old.”
“Oh. Grandpa’s Uncle Dee died, too.”
I knew Dee had passed a week or so ago, and he’d probably heard Ken talking about it.
“He’s in Heaven. I wish I could see him.”
“You will one day, buddy. But hopefully not for a long time.”
“I wish I could see God.”
“You’ll see him, too. That’s what heaven’s like. You get to see the people you love again, that went before. And you get to see God and be with him.”
“He wears a white robe,” he told me. “Mimi says.”
“That’s right,” I told him. “And a gold sash, because he’s also a king.”
We pulled into Circle K because I needed some gas, and he dropped this truth bomb on me.
“Uncle Dee is home now,” he told me, in his matter-of-fact little 4 year old voice. “So is your mom.”
“That’s right,” I said, and had to try really hard not to lose it right then.
“What did she die from?”
“She bumped into a cactus?”
I didn’t think it was possible, but I started laughing and crying at the same time. If you think crying makes people ugly, you should have seen that. I had to have looked like a madman. I’d calmed myself down a little by the time I got to Ken and Linda’s, but then I had the brilliant idea to tell them the story and it started all over again. Oh well, they probably already thought I was a goof.
Kids, man. I found out a little later from my older son that apparently, there’s these cactus things in Minecraft that kill you if you bump into them. It’s a dangerous world out there, I guess.